If someone were to ask you, “Are you living or existing?”, finding that answer can be complicated. Even though both terms mean to be alive, their context is very different.
To exist means to stay alive; however, living means to enjoy life and every moment with admiration and happiness. This difference is the key between existing and living.
It’s possible to wake up and act automatically—wake up, get ready, finish your daily activities, go back home, go to bed, and start over again. This repetition can make us act mechanically, making us forget to be conscious and enjoy each moment.
Once in that never-ending cycle, we just exist, doing the bare minimum to stay alive but not enjoying our lives.
Existing After Trauma
When someone finds themself in a traumatic situation, the brain activates its survival instincts and resiliency to face the crisis. However, once we are no longer in danger, our brain needs to switch out of that “survival” setting, which can be difficult and require some time and work.
After experiencing a traumatic event, many people still suffer from hypervigilance, stress, fear, angst, anxiousness, distrust, and other feelings that stop us from enjoying life.
These feelings are symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and in many cases, we don’t realize these changes ourselves. Our loved ones are often the ones who note them, but we can reflect on ourselves and determine if we are just existing.
How Do We Start Living?
We can start by asking ourselves these questions:
- Do I wake up every morning excited about the new day?
- Why do I do what I do?
- Am I giving myself time to enjoy what I like, or am I just doing what’s needed?
- Am I moving forward in my life, or am I stagnant?
- Am I enjoying the small moments in my day?
If answering any of these causes you emotional anxiety, it’s time to self-analyze and decide how you want to keep going in your life. Even when the change between existing and living can be made, it’s easier and faster if we have the help of an expert.
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center can refer you to a mental health professional who can help you heal after a traumatic event so you can start living life to the fullest again.
The healing process is unique to every individual; it looks different and has a different timeline for each person. Even if you haven’t reached out for help, remember that it’s never too late and that help is available for you and your loved ones at the VSRC.
To learn about free, upcoming healing activities you can participate in, like meditation, yoga, and art, visit our calendar at VegasStrongRC.org/calendar.